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Southampton University Students' Union

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Southampton University Students' Union

University of Southampton Students' Union
File:University Southampton Students Union SUSU Logo.png
Institution University of Southampton
Location Building 42, University of Southampton, University Road, Southampton, SO17 1BJ
Established 1903
President David Gilani
Vice presidents Oliver Coles (Communities)
David Martin (Democracy & Creative Industries)
David Mendoza-Wolfson (Education)
Claire Gilbert (Engagement)
Evan Whyte (Sports)
Beckie Thomas (Welfare)[1]
Members 22,269 (2011/12)[2]
Affiliations Aldwych Group

The University of Southampton Students' Union, abbreviated to SUSU, is the students' union at the University of Southampton in southern England, United Kingdom. SUSU represents the students at the University council as well as providing support and social activities. The union is financed through its operations, a grant from the University and additional benefits brought by its charitable status. Its main facilities are based on the main Highfield Campus, but SUSU also operates a base at the Winchester School of Art and helps student societies and groups at the other campuses of the University. All students at the University becoming members of the union automatically unless they specifically request to opt-out. Its operation is enshrined in law through the Education Act 1994, the University Charter granted in 1952 and the Union's constitution.


The origins of SUSU lie in the original union that represented the students of the Hartley University College, the precursor to the current University, when it became affiliated to the University of London in 1903.[3] It became self-governed by students in 1921 with the introduction of the basic structure of one male and female member from each faculty.[3] The Union expanded greatly following the granting of the Universities Charter in 1952 and the subsequent expansion of the university in both student numbers and outlook, leading to the creation of several union facilities and services.

For a sizable length of its existence, the union was associated with the National Union of Students (NUS), however in May 2002 SUSU chose to disaffiliate itself from the NUS on the grounds that the organisation was becoming too bureaucratic.[4] This decision was put to a referendum in December 2010 and again in December 2012 to whether SUSU should re-affiliate with the NUS, following a perceived change in the organisation and in circumstances, and on both occasions the result was that SUSU would remain independent[5] with the 2012 result totalling 73% against the affiliation.[6]


Governance and zones

Foundation in University charter

1.There shall be a Union of Students of the University.
2.Ordinances shall prescribe the constitution functions privileges and other matters relating to the Union of Students.

Statute 5, University of Southampton Royal Charter[7]

SUSU's highest decision making body is the Union Council.[8] Meeting six times a year, it is made up of 80 voting members, including the sabbatical officers, student leaders and councilors that represent the diversity of the university.[8] They decide of the union's main policies that affect the entire union and those that are not specific to one zone. For a policy to pass, the meeting must be quorate, or at least half of the eligible members present to vote. Any student is able to attend and speak at a union council, although not to vote,[8] and any student is able to vote in the AGM, held each year in the summer[9] and in 2013 broadcast online by SUSUtv therefore allowing students to vote online.

In addition to council, the union also has several other committees each part of one or more of the zones, introduced in 2013. There are eight zones in total: three policy zones and five activity zones. The Policy zones focus around the entire union activities and are Democracy, Sustainability and Student Communities, whereas the Activity zones focus on the individual activities that make up life at the university and within the union. These are Creative Industries, Education, External Engagement, Sport and Student Life.[10]

To ensure SUSU achieves it's charitable aims, it has a number of trustees who ensure that this occurs. SUSU also has to adhere to a strict set of Memorandum and Articles of Association, which focus around twelve rules, and the Union's Constitution.[9][11] It's main aims are outlined it their Union plan to 2015 and the SUSU - University Relationship agreement signed in 2013.[12][13]

Sabbatical officers

SUSU is currently led by seven sabbatical officers: one president and six vice-presidents each covering a particular area of the union's activity. They are elected in February or March each year by any full member of the union (all students automatically unless they specifically opt out). The current sabbaticals for 2013/14 are:

  • David Gilani - Union President
  • David Martin - Vice President, Democracy & Creative Industries
  • David Mendoza-Wolfson - Vice President, Education
  • Claire Gilbert - Vice President, Engagement
  • Evan Whyte - Vice President, Sports Development
  • Oliver Coles - Vice President, Student Communities
  • Beckie Thomas - Vice President, Welfare

The Union President represents the students on general issues and is the figurehead of the union while the Vice Presidents are all allocated a separate area to concentrate their efforts. The VP Democracy and Creative Industries overlooks the elections and accountability aspects of the union as well as running the SUSU Media departments, Union Films and the Performing Arts societies. The VP Education concentrates on the quality of the University's teaching and learning facilities. The VP Engagement is tasked with the societies, RAG, community involvement, student enterprise and communication between the Union and the students. The VP Sports Development is in charge of the Athletic Union and encouraging student involvement in sport. The VP Student Communities is tasked with ensuring the wellbeing of students studying at the satellite campuses, notably those for the Winchester School of Art, Southampton General Hospital and the National Oceanography Centre, for the running of the JCR committees and for representing International and Postgraduate students. The VP Welfare is in charge of ensuring equality and diversity is championed, the Union is ethical and environmentally friendly as well as in charge of general student Welfare and access to advice. The results for the current sabbaticals were announced on the 1 March, taking office on 1 July 2013.

Student Leaders

In addition to the sabbatical officers, there are also student leaders who represent the creative outlets, particular student activities or a particular group of students.[14] As of September 2013 these are:


SUSU has a range of facilities located on the Highfield campus and on the Winchester School of Art campus. The Union's Highfield buildings are arranged around a central plaza, named after the red brick paving of the area. It is frequently used by the Union to host events, for fundraising events and to hold the weekly market.

The main Union building, Building 42, was constructed in 1966 and was designed by Sir Basil Spence as part of his campus masterplan. Spread over four levels, it contains 'The Café' and 'The Bridge' restaurants, the latter also a cocktail bar, as well as the offices of the Sabbaticals and sports facilities. The building was also extensively renovated in 2002 leading to the creation of two new Bars and 'The Cube' multi-functional space that can either be used as a nightclub or as a cinema through retractable seating. The Union building has undergone progressive renovation in recent years: the concourse entrance was completely renovated during Summer 2011,[15] the Cafe at approximately the same time, the Bridge bar in Summer 2012[16] and a new hub created in Building 40 home to the Advice Centre and facilities for the student societies.[17]

In addition to the main building, the Union also has use of the 1940 constructed West Building. Also known as Building 40, this originally held all of SUSU's activities until the construction of the current Union. At present the building hosts the pub 'The Stags Head', often shortened to the Stags, as well as the Union's Advice Centre. The final building at Highfield is the 1996 built Union retail centre, containing the Union shop on the ground floor as well as three retail units above, occupied by the Uni-link travel centre, a hairdressers and a custom clothing company.

The Union also operates a small Union building at the Winchester School of Art with meeting rooms for societies and a general purpose area and bar. Expansion in Winchester and greater inclusion of the students with the rest of SUSU is a key target for current sabbatical teams.[18]

Student societies

SUSU plays a major role in the social activity of the students from the University. The organisations and societies it supports are a key part of this. The union supports over 200 societies at the university and allows anyone to create a new society if there is not provision for that group. It also supports 78 sports teams through its Athletic Union branch and 31 Performing Arts societies grouped under this umbrella brand. The Union also supports a RAG (Raise and Give) society to raise money for local and national charities, operates Community Volunteering and Action programmes and has a Nightline service for distressed or worried students.

Creative Industries

SUSU's four main creative industries are grouped together under the SUSU Media division. All are entirely student led and operated.

  • Surge Radio broadcasts from studios inside the main Union building over the internet and on FM during the first fortnight of the academic year. Created in 1976, it has won multiple awards including 11 Gong awards.[19]
  • Internet television station SUSUtv broadcasts live programmes every week on a Friday as well as producing other programmes including dramas and other news bulletins where permitting. Started in 2007 and broadcasting in HD three years later, this is another well awarded service.
  • The Wessex Scene is a student newspaper published seven times a year and kept updated through their online website. Starting out in 1936 as the Wessex News and renamed in 1996, the newspaper continues to gain writers and has had numerous articles showcased in the national press.
  • The Edge entertainment magazine began life as an insert of the Wessex Scene in 1995 before growing to become a full publication and online presence in 2011. The magazine contains reviews of films, music and theatre as well as interviews with big names in music.

In addition to these, SUSU also operates two other creative industries: Union Films and Performing Arts. Union Films operates the Cinema located in the union building. Staffed completely by student volunteers, Union Films is involved in all stages of the film including setting up the cinema, selling refreshments, publicizing the event and projecting the film itself.[20]

The Performing Arts brand is used to represent the 31 societies that include music, dance and drama in their remit. They share a common officer and committee and often share their own individual society branding with that of the Performing Arts umbrella brand. This allows a performing art event to be constantly promoted within the union, while each society takes its time in rehearsing a new routine, play or music. The brand is also used for ticketing with a Performing Arts pass available to get students into performances by any of the societies. In addition to the performance aspect, the brand also incudes StageSoc, who operate back-stage and with the technical services department.[21]

Junior Common Rooms

In addition to these societies, SUSU also operates JCR (Junior Common Room)[22] committees for their halls. They are there to help new students settle into the university experience, run events throughout the year and also to represent a particular halls within SUSU. Due to the size of some halls, Halls of residence are often grouped together into the following JCRs:

  • Monte JCR - Montefiore Halls, Wessex Lane Complex
  • Connaught JCR - Connaught Halls, Wessex Lane Complex
  • Glen Eyre JCR - All halls on the main Glen Eyre Halls complex
  • Chamberlain JCR - The Halls opposite the Glen Eyre complex. Despite the name, the Chamberlain hall is currently demolished for rebuilding.
  • Archers Road JCR - For Romero, Gateley and St. Margarets Halls.
  • Bencraft JCR - The smallest halls for Bencraft, near Glen Eyre.
  • Highfield JCR - Near to Avenue Campus.
  • Erasmus Park JCR - For Winchester School of Art students
  • Liberty Point JCR - Not owned by the University, but is established due to the agreement between the University and the Halls' owners and the number of students living there.
  • Private Rented JCR - Representation and socials for those not in Halls.


The Athletic Union supports over 80 sports teams at the university[23] as well as providing them with access to union minibuses and subsidised sports wear. The teams use both University facilities at Wide Lane, the Jubilee Sports Hall and the boating hard, but also the Union's own sports hall, squash courts, martial arts room and rock climbing wall. Societies compete in national British Universities and Colleges Sport tournaments, in Intramural sports matches and in the annual Varsity cup match between the University of Southampton and the University of Portsmouth.[24]

See also


External links

  • SUSU Official Website
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • YouTube
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